Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Things I Learned In Vancouver

1. I am willing to sacrifice fashion for comfort - sort of.  On the Saturday my sisters and I went to High Tea at The Fish House in Stanley Park and then walked the seawall.  I brought running shoes to change into and tried not to feel self-conscious in my black coat, black dress, black leggings and glaringly white Nike's.  My sisters had the advantage of having their entire wardrobe at their fingertips and both wore stylishly sensible equestrian-esque boots.  Every time I looked down at our feet I heard that Sesame Street song, "one of these things doesn't belong here...."

2. Ballet flats that are comfortable for a day of shopping at home are not comfortable for a day of shopping in Vancouver.  I considered wearing the Nike's because I knew it would be more walking than the seawall, but no.  Couldn't do it.  I wasn't browsing through snooty shops on Robson in trainers.  Fashion won out that day.  And so did shin splints and blisters which popped up on every toe and both heels. 

3. The city is friendlier than I expected.  Every where I went people struck up conversation.  The man in the airport who's brother was playing on Canada's Curling team at the Paralympics; the guy working at Chapters who is a film student and thinks "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" is an abomination (which I personally agree with); The girl on the bus who told me the driver had called her out over the intercom, even though she was only a couple seats behind him, for curling her foot up under her on the seat; the crazy-looking, likely homeless guy who walked past us on Robson then turned around walked ahead of us and then came back towards us opening his mouth like he was about to speak until I averted my eyes.

4. It is not a good idea to make too much eye contact.

5. I will never drink another Starbucks Mocha again.  After mocha's from JJ Bean and a place called Wicked, just a block below Jane's apartment, I have realized how gritty and inferior the Starbucks Mocha is.

6. I like cappuccino's.  Me.  The girl who only likes her coffee products to taste like liquid candy.  I know, right?  Surprised me too.  Had the best cappuccino ever at the Autumn Brook Art Gallery which also does a weekend brunch.  It was so good Erin and I both had to get another one to go.  I'm still dreaming about them.

7. It actually is possible to have too much chocolate in a chocolate-filled croissant.  GASP.  Can you believe I just said that?  During Erin's last visit here she told me about this chocolate croissant she got from the Granville Market and how she thought about me because she knows how much I love them but that she was disappointed because it had too much chocolate in it.  Well I thought that was just plain blasphemy.  How could there possibly be too much chocolate in a chocolate croissant?  I was determined to try it out for myself during this trip and I found much to my shock and alarm, Erin was right!  What is the matter with me?  First it's the coffee and now this.  This may require an intervention if it goes any further!

8. I do not sleep well without Hugh.  Every night I'd lie down and close my eyes, exhausted after a full day and.... BING!  My heart would start racing and my adrenaline would kick in and I'd spend the night tossing and turning while my mind raced merrily away.  Though that may have been the result of all the espresso I was drinking.

9. My baby sister is a really good mom.  I never doubted it but it was really special to see her in action.  And Felix?  Good lord that nephew of mine is adorable!  I actually pulled a muscle in my neck/shoulder freaking out about his cuteness and then had to lay on a tennis ball to try to get the knot out.

10. It's not a good idea to have short Asian girls take your group photo.  The only picture I have of the three of us our heads are cut-off at the top and we look overly tall and out of proportion.  Should've guessed how it would turn out when the camera was pointed at our chests!

All in all it was a great trip.  We did lot's of walking, coffee'ing and laughing together and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with my sisters like that.  The next best thing to going was coming home.  Sweet little faces and voices greeting me at my home airport. Hugh. Hugs. Kisses. Bouquets of flowers... There really is no place like home.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Caution: Adventure Ahead

2 diapers
Package of travel wipes
Grocery receipts from the last three grocery shops.
Chiro & Physio receipts
Dentist receipt
Half of a granola bar out of it's wrapper.
A full granola bar in it's wrapper.
A ripped granola bar wrapper.
Ziploc bag of raisins & cheerios.
2 pairs of driving gloves.
1 broken candy cane.
1 bracelet made of beads on a pipe cleaner.
1 plastic dinosaur.
1 plastic farmer.
1 plastic mother.
1 sparkly pink hair barrett.
1 Hot Wheels car.
1 Movie stub to Valentine's Day. 
1 unsharpened pencil, red with white hearts.
1 rock, gift from my son.
1 used kleenex.
1 appointment card for a chiro appointment I had March 8th.
1 half-eaten Aero bar, which is about to become fully eaten.
1 toothbrush still in the package from my last dentist appointment.
1 container of floss, see above.
1 set of house/car keys.

That is literally what I just took out of my purse.  The concept of being able to tell a lot about a woman by what is in her purse isn't new but it sure is true! That list above is the purse of a mom with young children who is slightly less organized than she would like to be, who is physically not in great shape, (see chiro & physio receipts), and who never changes out her purses, just adding layers to the one she's using.

So why did I decide to empty out my purse today?  I'M GOING ON HOLIDAYS! My baby sister had a baby in January and I haven't met my nephew yet.  What with two Grandmothers, the Olympics, and my other sister's sets (say that three times fast!) of days off we decided this was the best time to come. The countdown is finally over.  Tomorrow morning I am flying to Vancouver.  By. My. Self.  I will spend one entire week adoring baby Felix, sleeping in, going for coffee, shopping and visiting two of the best sisters in the universe.  By. My. Self.  If this is a dream please don't pinch me!

It is only fitting that my purse now reflect my current status: woman on holidays!
Cell phone
Folding enviro bag
3 Lipglosses
Purell (can't quite leave the "mom" behind).
Eye glasses
Book for the plane (The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morten) which I bought at Costco because it was cheap and thick. 
1 pen
1 pink paisley notebook in case I am seized by a sudden urge to write lists.  This happens frequently.
A mini swiss army knife which I will pack in my suitcase before I head to the airport so as not to be confused with actual terrorists.
Print-out of my e-ticket.

So that's it.  I'm ready to go.  Let us not say good-bye but as the French have it, Au Revoir!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Along with Mounties, Maple Syrup, and Giant Beavers

I love CBC radio.  It is the sounds of my childhood; hockey games on road trips, news and features every morning while getting ready for school.  I even remember listening to Peter Gzosky on Morningside when we lived in the Yukon.  When channel surfing for radio stations in other cities I can always tell which one is CBC.  It has a certain quality, an indefinable sound that I can only describe as Canadian. CBC, like Hockey Night in Canada, has been woven into the DNA of our country.  It is wonderfully and inextricably part of our Canadian experience.  I love CBC radio.

I also love a good story.  When I read, I read for escape.  I want my stories to be funny or heartwarming and if I get really lucky they'll be both.  Which is why I am such a fan of Stuart McLean and The Vinyl Cafe.  How could I not love something that combines great stories and a radio program on CBC?  His books make me laugh until I have literally shaken our bed at night.  I get perma-grin listening to his CD's of stories on road trips and can only imagine how strange I must look to the oncoming traffic, like whoa, did you see the look on that lady's face, the one driving the minivan?  I hope her kids are okay in there. Seeing Stuart McLean live, which I've had the privilege of doing three times, most recently last night, is wonderful.  His voice, so magical to begin with, is augmented by how endearing he is in person; how sincerely humble he is; how genuine his delight is in the warm reception of him and his characters.  Dave & Morley are so beloved, so real, they have ceased to be characters and feel instead like old friends of the family as does Stuart himself.  Stuart's interplay with the audience is masterful and the shouts of laughter that resonate through the auditorium settle into your heart until it is so full of warmth and delight and goodwill to your fellow man you have to spill a few tears to make room for all that good feeling.  Well, I do.  Hugh doesn't seem to have the same problem.  Heads of warring nations should cease peace talks.  They should sit in on a live show of The Vinyl Cafe.  Guaranteed they'd be slapping knees and slapping backs, the best of friends by the end of the night.

My entire family loves The Vinyl Cafe and we were all excited about Extreme Vinyl Cafe, Stuart's new book which was released shortly before Christmas.  I may or may not have threatened the dissolution of our marriage if it wasn't under the tree Christmas morning.  In my stocking on Christmas morning I found two tickets to last night's show. Best gift ever!  We moved on to the presents under the tree.
To Mom & Jay from Hugh & Heather: Extreme Vinyl Cafe.
To Heather from Hugh: Extreme Vinyl Cafe.
To Erin from Mom & Jay: Extreme Vinyl Cafe.
To Hugh & Heather from Mom & Jay: Extreme Vinyl Cafe.
It was a Vinyl Cafe Christmas! Thankfully while I had been wrapping presents a week earlier I had also been watching a Christmas movie.  There is something to be said for distraction.  I forgot to inscribe the book to my parents so they were able to take the extra copy and send it along to my other sister and her husband who hadn't been able to come out for Christmas close as she was to her due date.

The Vinyl Cafe is a real family affair which I am being diligent to pass on to the next generation.  Not too long ago we were listening to one of the Vinyl Cafe CD's in the car.  It was just an ordinary errand-day and Hugh and I were taking turns staying in the van while the other was able to run in without dealing with buckles and strollers and other kid paraphernalia.  The kids were playing little games in the backseat and I put in a Vinyl Cafe CD to pass the waiting time more enjoyably.  We had just pulled into a parking lot when Hugh and I burst into laughter over Dave's latest shenanigan.  We listened for a minute more and then Hugh paused it so he wouldn't miss the rest of the story while he was gone. Just as Hugh was opening the van door Ava's little voice piped up from the very back of the van, "What did Dave do?"

And isn't that just the right question to ask when it comes to Dave?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Best Ever Quiet Time

Kids have just gone down for a nap.

Tea is steeping.

Chocolate chip cookies just came out of the oven.

Pride and Prejudice pages await.

What's your best ever?

Monday, March 8, 2010

I'm a Gleek

And no that's not a typo.  I am officially in love (bordering on obsession) with the TV show Glee.  Once the Olympics were over I had no idea what to do with all my newfound free time so I decided to spend a weekend watching Season 1. 


Warning: Spoiler Alert.  If you have not watched Glee go do that right now.  Do not make dinner, do not read stories to your children and do not converse with your husband.  (Also, do not pass Go or collect $200).  WATCH GLEE!

The storylines are both zany - hello fake pregnancy? and heartwarming - Sue having a Downs Syndrome sister.  The cast is magic.  Sue Sylvester is the perfect comedic villain.  Mr. Schu. is delicious. Finn is adorable And Puck is just plain hot.  Tell me I'm not the only one who likes the bad boy. I love Rachel in all her painful glory.  I watch half of her scenes holding onto a pillow so I can duck my face when the earnest and the awkward get to be too much.  Quinn.  Beautiful mean girl Quinn.  I love to hate Quinn.  And I love it even more when she surprises us with her honesty or compassion and makes us love her.  And Emma, sweet, OCD Emma who has such great wardrobing. You and Mr. Schu = true love 4ever.

As for the music.  I heart the musical numbers.  I'm not saying they are all fabulous singers, Quinn and Finn come to mind, but what they lack in ability they make up for in heart and the performances are all incredibly entertaining.  From Kurts "Single Ladies" video to Mercedes singing "Imagine" with the deaf choir to Artie and the wheel chair version of "Proud Mary" to the brilliant mash-ups, I love them all.  Any show where the characters periodically break into song and dance and makes me laugh and cry in the same episode has my vote.

These are the moments when I regret not following my dreams of the stage.  I want to be in Glee.  I need to be in Glee. The other day I came across something that proves I belong in this show.

On the left we have a dress worn in the "Rehab" performance by a rival school.  On the right is moi on the way to a school dance, circa 1992. 

Meant to be or what?  Now if only I could sing...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Universe May Be Trying To Tell Me Something

When I was six I jumped backwards into a pool.  I didn't jump far enough back and I hit the side of the pool with my chin.  Which promptly started pouring blood.  We were on holidays in Hawaii and my dad promised to buy me a muumuu if I didn't cry while I got stitched up.  My tears magically dried up leaving not even a sniffle in their wake.  I don't have the dress anymore (which by the way was pink and floral and still one of my favourite dresses ever) but I have the scar under my chin to remember it by.

Fast forward a few years.  I was 12.   We were on holidays in Kamloops visiting family friends who had a pool in their backyard. I had been successfully doing back-flips off their diving board all afternoon and had just been told I could do one more before we left.  Contrary to what you're thinking right now I successfully executed that final back-flip.  But, and here's where it all goes downhill, my parents were still talking with their friends and I decided I had time for one more quick flip.  In my haste I didn't jump back far enough and hit the diving board with my chin and then my front teeth.  Which promptly snapped in half.  I was in some kind of trouble!  There was no offer of a dress this time and instead I had to endure three painful days of raw nerve endings and vampire fangs while we drove home to Smithers stopping in Prince George for a day to do our back-to-school clothes shopping.  I became obsessed with watching the way people talked analyzing how much much of their teeth they showed when they said certain words.  I can still remember my stomach flipping while I clenched my teeth tight and slipped a straw through the hole in the middle of my mouth.  I went the dentist as soon as we got home and after a couple of hours with my mouth in a dam I came out with a new set of front teeth. Just in time for school thankfully.

Fast forward a few more years to this past summer.  May to be exact.  The same month Hugh got laid off.  We took our kids to our local pool in the morning during the middle of the week.  The pool was practically empty and after doing the waterslide a few zillion we decided to warm up in the hot tub.  On our way back to the hot tub we passed the 5m diving board and the kids stopped to stare as a brave kid launched himself off it.  The look of awe on their faces is what prompted me to open my big mouth and say, "Mommy used to jump off diving boards this high."  Which prompted Hugh to bet me that I couldn't still do it, that I wasn't brave enough anymore.  Which is why I found myself at the top of a diving board that had somehow grown to be at least 10m during my climb looking way, way down at the water below.  My heart was pounding out the theme song to Jaws and I think I may have even seen a shark fin or two in the frothing and churning water.  Or the diving board was really only 5m and the water was perfectly calm and there wasn't a soul in sight.  Maybe.

It felt a lot higher than I remembered it being and I almost chickened out but then two things happened simultaneously: Hugh laughed and a lifeguard yelled, "Do it!"  So I jumped.  Forward this time.  I have learned a thing or two over the years.  I came up to hear my kids cheering for me.  The look on their faces was almost enough to make me ignore the ache in my arm.  But then the summer went on and my arm kept hurting.  It hurt when I dove into a friends pool.  It hurt when I tried to throw a baseball to the kids.  It hurt when I raised my arm up over my head.  I just kept thinking I'd pulled a muscle and it was taking it's own sweet time to heal.  A few weeks ago I absently reached around to scratch my back and yelled in pain.  Then I counted back and realized after 10 months my arm was still hurting.  This was no pulled muscle.  Turns out I injured my rotator cuff and did a whole bunch of nerve damage which is requiring a combo of physio and chiropractic care.  I have now had one treatment of each and currently feel bruised in all parts of my upper body.  Suddenly even my other shoulder hurts, the one I didn't injure.  Can't decide if this is psychological or not. Probably not.  In general I am a model of sanity, reason and all things non-dramatic.  Tongue exit cheek.

Anyway, the moral of the story is... Hmm, I guess there isn't really one.  Don't try to show off for your kids maybe?  That I should avoid diving and water and any combination of those things?  One thing I did learn is I am not a kid anymore.  I don't bounce back like I used to and a new dress isn't going to fix this.  Well it might.  It couldn't hurt.  I mean who's to say it wouldn't help, right?